I recently had 40 minutes to kill at Fulham Broadway tube station. In hindsight, I should have popped next door and slapped Didier Drogba. Instead I visited ‘Borders Books’ and bought a book called ‘My Last Supper’. I sat down in a quaint little coffee shop and had something called a Frappucino which might or might not catch on- I urge you to try one. This book was brilliant- with fabulous photos and was beautifully written. It’s basic premise was to ask a cross section of famous chefs from around the world what their last meal would be. Which of course got me thinking. What do I want in my belly when my clogs are popped. What are the food stuffs that give me the most joy, the most stimulation- make me feel comforted, secure and happy? This is not an easy question for someone who defines their life by food, who dreams about it, earns money from it and can be made to cry and laugh at the very thought of it. I love food. All of it. There is almost nothing that Iwouldn’t put in my mouth- I have limited affection for raw celery but can respect its durability, given its vileness. And I love celeriac and braised celery in a soup or stew is fine. Anyway, revolting food is another discussion coming soon to a blog near you. For the purposes of this entry though let’s return to the good stuff.
I think, if you will allow, that my last supper will be a lunch. Lunch is a far superior meal to dinner- the promise of sunshine and snoozing, herb scented breeze and laughter. It would of course be outside (I would have every meal outside if I were allowed) and it would be with people I like very much indeed. There would be a large wooden table with mis-matched chairs and the stains of years. We would eat from large white china plates- probably chipped and drink from jugs of ice cold tap water and carafes of wine. In my only concession to cheffiness I demand Poilane bread in a big basket with fat curds of Jersey salted butter. Then I want some ham. Not just any ham, mind you. I want Jamon Joselito ‘Gran Reserva’ –Serrano ham from the Pata Negra (black foot) pig- so intense and sweet from a diet of acorns and then slow maturation for two years in the cool, dry air of Guijuelo in Salamanca. This is serious ham- the wine connotations of ‘Gran Reserva’ are no coincidence- this stuff is valued as is the finest Rioja. Now if you wanted a whole one, a whole pig leg, pata negra and all, it is going to set you back 500 quid. For one ham. Like I said, this is serious stuff- waffer (sic) thin supermarket pap this is most certainly not.
Then I would have some oysters, on the half shell as our funny American friends say between dozens. Just alone on some crushed ice- no lemon, no salt, no shallot vinegar and for God’s sake, no Tabasco. Just oysters, native ones, in their own juice- a clean hit of iodine, salt and something almost primordial that I can’t quite explain. Like licking a wet fossil. In a thunder storm.
You might or might not notice that my choices thus far have not had some chef’s grubby mits on them- I may be doing myself out of a job, but my favourite things are untouched. A carrot out of the ground is nicer than a cumin scented veloute. A strawberry is better than a mousse. There is NO reason for a chef to do anything to an oyster, other than massage his own ego (see previous post) Why deep fry it? Why smother it in melted cheese and bacon? Angels on horseback? Pffft.
My main course will be a whole shoulder of pork from my friends at Eastbrook Farm in Wiltshire. And it will be cooked for 7 hours until falling apart with a crown of glorious salty crackling. There will be gravy made from scrumpy and simply boiled english asparagus, broad beans and new Jersey Royals with more of that beautiful island’s butter.
God, I am salivating. Next I want one of two things and I cant decide, so I dont care which. Either I would like gooseberries, cooked up with a bit of sugar – served warm with some buttercup yellow vanilla ice cream or else I would like, please, a perfectly ripe pear with 5 slices of Manchego cheese. Nearly done now, stay with me. One double espresso. And though not particularly a smoker, a marlborough light. I’m about to die after all.